Darkside; Coronet Theatre, London, 29/3/14
DARKSIDE is the extraordinary project of electronic musician Nicolas Jaar and guitarist Dave Harrington. After collaborating together to perform Jaar’s debut album Space Is Only Noise, the two have joined hands to produce an experience that is somewhat difficult to put down in words.
The act released their debut album Psychic in late 2013 and is touring the global stage with their live performance, which combines a hypnotic light show, enigmatic stage presence, and bass lines expected of any live electronic gig.
Selling out The Coronet Theatre, seemingly even to overfill it, the pair stunned an ecstatic and thirsty crowd with their amalgamation of deep electronic sound and extraordinary blues-eqsue guitar.
The two-hour gig was a full on aural assault, utterly relentless for the duration of the set. Jaar amplified the room’s blood pressure with his non-stop string of modular synthesised sounds and samples, whilst Harrington built up rich and distorted guitar patterns that became more and more progressive. The duo kept the audience completely on edge for the duration of the night, waiting for the familiar tracks from Psychic hidden amongst the experimental sounds.
DARKSIDE abandoned the traditional setlist in favour of a lengthy jam session, pulling out tracks as and when they saw fit, never failing to catch you unaware with the transition into an album piece that saw crowds become more and more excited. When the bass dropped, the audience found themselves completely absorbed by the heavenly lights and the feeling of sub was overwhelming. The audience became one and the theatre was completely alive. It was chilling.
There is nothing quintessential about DARKSIDE, other than their ability to impress as a live show. It would be a mistake to think that electronic music isn’t suited to the stage, and DARKSIDE put that very point to effect. The minimalist but ingenious light show entranced and kept the crowd fixated during the climactic progressions. A large round mirror on stage bounced a circular laser beam from the back of the theatre into the crowd, creating a vortex effect that sucked you in as the mirror rotated. If you happened to glance a look at Jaar and Harrington as the angles aligned, their distorted faces confirmed to you that you were staring into a portal, perhaps into the ‘dark side’ of reality. The marrying of light and sound was mesmerising.
Many have pointed out the reference between ‘DARKSIDE’ and 1973 album Dark Side of The Moon and it is impossible not to consider the similarities: it doesn’t musically intrude on the original, but conceptually it could appear to be reinventing Dark Side of The Moon, drawing parallels with psychedelic undertones and the narrative unravelled across the macro scale of the record.
If you haven’t yet listened to DARKSIDE, I implore you to sit down and listen to Psychic in its entirety for the most fulfilling experience, but if you have to just listen to one track, make it “Heart”.